MTV brings music video venture to UK

MTVMTV International is to launch its online music initiative MTV Music, a major video archive, in the UK in Q3 this year. The site will form part of an ambitious global digital hub which will bring together the brand’s vast archive in a bid to position MTV as the leading online music video destination.

MTV International has already launched a beta site in the US, MTVMusic.com, which attracted 500,000 users in its first three days.

The company is in talks with brands to offer sponsorships across the proposition. It’s also considering partnerships with music suppliers to enable users to click through to a partner site to purchase albums and tracks.

The site will feature the music brand’s extensive collection of music videos alongside a raft of social media tools, enabling users to create playlists which can be shared with friends. They will also be able to take away MTV content and embed it within social networks and other websites.

The move comes as MTV’s parent company Viacom continues its legal battle against YouTube and its parent company Google. The court action was launched in 2007 when Viacom accused YouTube of “massive international copyright infringement” regarding 160,000 unauthorised clips of Viacom programming which were available on the site.

Andy Chen, Europe VP of digital solutions at Viacom Brand Solutions, said the MTV Music site, which has been in development for a year, would build on the brand’s heritage and provide a global audience with a legal video archive.

“If you look at our brand legacy, music videos are our crown jewels. We want to open up our library and give everyone access,” he said.

Chen confirmed the company was in early talks with advertisers keen to associate with music and target MTV’s 18-34-year-old audience. He couldn’t share internal projections for its online community but was confident of the site’s performance after its beta launch in the US.

“This is clearly going to be a destination for music videos online,” he said. “We are in initial discussions with a lot of brands. We’re exploring all our options for revenue models beyond media sponsorship. In this economic climate everyone needs to be looking at all options available.”

Chen acknowledged the online music market was competitive, with the likes of Yahoo’s and MSN’s music channels and MySpace Music, but said, “I believe we have a strong brand legacy and, although the competition these days is very tough, we remain one of the most trusted music brands.”

Dan Cryan, senior analyst at Screen Digest, said, “There remains a strong association between MTV and music despite a lot of the content on the core MTV channels having little to do with music.”

He added that MTV had been more active with music content online, which could help it tap into its heritage and position itself as the leader in online music video.

But he warned the challenge would be monetising the site and finding ways to justify high CPMs. “Music videos have always been popular online but have a track record of not attracting particularly good CPM rates, despite good viewing rates. MTV will do well if it can come up with a way around that problem.”

Cryan said sites such as Hulu and YouTube have overcome these issues by using embeddable players to push content out to wider audiences to keep CPM rates high.

The launch comes as advertiser interest in online music grows, aided by the imminent launch of MySpace Music and start-ups such as ad-funded social music site Spotify.

Dan Ek, founder and CEO of Spotify, said advertisers were keen to associate with music. “It’s probably one of the most powerful social objects and advertisers are excited to be associated with music,” he said.

MySpace Music

– MTV Music faces stiff competition from MySpace, which is approaching brands for the rollout of ad-funded service MySpace Music, which will allow UK users to stream labels’ entire back catalogues for free (new media age 11 February 2008).

– Since its US launch last September, the service has seen more than 100m playlists created by users.

– It was launched in partnership with the major labels and a number of independent labels.

– US users streamed more than 1bn tracks within the first few days of launch.

Streams of the latest albums by Beyonce and GNR were in millions and were the most popular album debuts to date

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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